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Face Masks

Last updated: September 7, 2021

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Face Masks and Coverings Frequently Asked Questions

NOTE: Face mask recommendations and other COVID prevention recommendations are based on the county’s case rate which determines the Level of Community Transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 


7.1.21 – Maryland Department of Health Face Covering Recommendation (PDF)

5.15.21 – Governor Larry Hogan has announced the end of the statewide mask mandate, aligning Maryland with new CDC guidance. Fully vaccinated individuals may resume activities as normal, however face coverings will still be required on public transportation and in schools and child care settings. Private businesses can determine their face mask policies.

State health officials strongly recommend unvaccinated individuals continue to wear face coverings. For COVID-19 vaccination locations, visit https://aahealth.org/vaccine-locations/.

Fully vaccinated people, who have immunocompromised conditions or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, may want to continue wearing a mask. They should consult with their health care provider.


Questions, talk to your healthcare provider.

The virus that causes COVID-19 disease spreads mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet), or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be transmitted by touching your eyes, nose, mouth or inhaled through your lungs. In addition, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching their own eyes, nose or mouth after touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. Those who unknowingly have COVID-19 and are not symptomatic can still spread the disease.

COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to prevent COVID-19 illness. For vaccine information, visit aahealth.org/covidvaccines. In public settings where some people are not vaccinated, wearing a face mask helps to prevent virus spread.

When to wear a face mask

When to Wear a Face Mask

To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public regardless of vaccination status. Face masks are required in some health care facilities and on public transportation.  Private businesses and workplaces can determine their own face mask policies.  Wearing a mask is the best way to slow the spread when around others outside your household. The two biggest risks are social gatherings and public dining, which bring people together who are not usually together. Keep your bubble of contacts as small as possible and do not let your guard down.

WHO SHOULD NOT Wear a Mask:

  • Children under age 2. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • Anyone who has a disability that prevents wearing a mask. People with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask are able to request reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Anxiety About Face Covering. Wearing a cloth face covering in public can reduce anxiety because it lowers your risk for infection, but for some, it significantly increases their anxiety from claustrophobic feelings or associating it with the situations where it should be worn because they are where the risk of infection increases. Try wearing the face covering at home for an hour while doing something you find relaxing to become comfortable with it and focus on how it will reduce the risk of infection when you wear it. If your anxiety persists consider getting help. Call 211 and press 1, text 898-211, visit pressone.211md.org, or chat confidentially for information about local services and programs.

How to Wear a Mask

Proper Use

How do I wear a mask?

For the best protection, wear a mask that has two or more layers of breathable fabric. For example, wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against your face. However, the mask should not be so tight that it interferes with breathing.

Masks should be placed over the mouth and nose and removed carefully, without touching the outside surface. Cloth masks should be washed frequently. Hot Weather. As the weather gets hotter, wearing face masks and coverings can be slightly uncomfortable. Here are some tips to help make it easier:

  • Use a lightweight breathable fabric.
  • 100% cotton fabric works best.

Glasses. You can eliminate glasses from fogging up by using soapy water. Wash glasses and leave them to air dry. The soap leaves behind a thin film that builds a fog barrier, helping you to see better. Also, make sure your mask fits snuggly, especially at the top. (AARP)

Mask Storage and Cleaning

Storing and Cleaning Fabric/Reusable Face Masks

  • Cleaning: Fabric face masks should be washed between use with hot water and regular detergent. Dry completely on a high heat setting.
  • Storage: Clean masks and dirty masks should be stored separately.

Storing and Cleaning Paper Masks

  • Storage and Cleaning: At this time, paper masks should be discarded after use.

When to Replace or Throw Away a Mask

  • Face masks should be thrown away if they are damaged or if they are hard to breathe through.
  • Face masks should be changed when saturated from condensation build up from breathing or after you believe your mask has become contaminated.

Prevention Recommendations

General Guidance for Respiratory Etiquette and Prevention
Face masks are not a substitute for other infection control efforts, such as getting vaccinated, washing your hands and social distancing. Masks may be effective in reminding others to respect social distancing guidelines.

COVID-19 vaccinations are available. Sign up for Anne Arundel County Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine clinics at https://aacounty.org/covidvax.

The CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, even if you are wearing a mask.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

CDC Resources

COVID-19 Contact Information

Visit the Department of Health at www.aahealth.org/COVID-19 for more COVID-19 health information. The Anne Arundel County COVID-19 webpage at www.aacounty.org/coronavirus has general information on county level efforts and resources.
If you have more questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, call the COVID-19 Health Line at 410-222-7256 or email covid19info@aacounty.org.

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